This is an example conversation in one of my textbooks. I don't really understand the third sentence and how to make sense of it in English. My understanding is that わけ is used to provide a reason or circumstance to explain something but I don't see how to translate that along with the rest of the sentence.

まり: ハナさん、どうしてポーラさんとぜんぜん話さなくなったの?

ハナ: うん、ちょっと...

まり: わけを話してくれたら、何か助けてあげられるかもしれないよ。

Mari: Hanna, why is it you’ve never talked to Paul?

Hanna: Er, well...

Mari: Is it that when you talk, there’s something you can’t help?

  • With わけを話す meaning to state one's reasons, couldn't the first part mean "if you could tell me your reason ..." We need someone more knowledgeable to help you with the second part, I'm afraid.
    – cirno
    Feb 20, 2015 at 14:47
  • To speak on the native level, you would understand the sentence better if you thought of 「わけ」 as "the story behind it" rather than a "reason". Mari is just saying "Tell me more about it.", not "Tell me the reason."
    – user4032
    Feb 21, 2015 at 0:31
  • It's worth distinguishing the わけ introduced as a grammar point (typically found at the ends of sentences, after a verb, or in phrases such as というわけ), and the わけ roughly equivalent to 理由. This わけ is the latter meaning.
    – oals
    Feb 24, 2015 at 15:12
  • 1
    This is just a nitpick, but ポーラ is Paula, not Paul.
    – marasai
    May 3, 2015 at 7:49

1 Answer 1


まり: ハナさん、どうしてポーラさんとぜんぜん話さなくなったの?

話さなく is 話さない(not speak) adverbialised + なった, the past form of なる(to become) So, the translation "Hanna, why is it you’ve never talked to Paul?" I think is a little off. I would equate it to closer to something like "Hanna, why have you stopped talking to Paul?"

まり: わけを話してくれたら、何か助けてああげられるかもしれないよ

Here, わけ can be interpreted as reason or cause. As cirno said, with 話す, it then means 'state one's reasons,' this can be read as 'If you state your reasons for me'

The second half I believe has a typo with a second あ added, and should be '何か助けてあげられるかもしれないよ'

何か(something) + 助けて(to help) + あげられる(potential form of あげる, to give) + かもしれない(possibly, may be)

何か助ける would be something like 'give some kind of help.' Conjugating to て-form and adding あげる means you are giving the action of helping, in this case to the listener Hanna, so 'do the favor of giving some kind of help to you(Hanna)'

Add in potential form and かもしれない, you get 'possibly I would be able to do you the favor of giving some kind of help.'

Putting the whole sentence together and making it sound a little natural in English: "If you tell me why, I might be able to help you."

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